PR Training

Don’t Model Your Content Strategy on This Famous ‘Field of Dreams’ Quote

Despite its poignancy in the 1989 film “Field of Dreams,” the phrase “If you build it, he will come” is actually a terrible piece of advice for a PR pro or content marketer.

If anybody is telling you that all you have to do is put out great content and let it take off in this fiercely competitive attention economy, then you should run.

Communications channels have become increasingly saturated, and now, with the backlash against Facebook, we’re even seeing simple user frustration boil over into outright rebellion. It doesn’t matter if the medium is Snapchat or a podcast network, either. If you are having an easy time producing content and getting engagement, then very soon everyone else will find out and crowd into your space.

I’m not here to be negative, though. There are still ways to stand out and get your brand’s great content noticed, and they’re the same established methods communicators have been using forever:

  1. Pay to get it in front of audiences. This used to come in the form of commercials on network TV or ads in local papers, but now it’s Facebook ads or YouTube ads.
  2. Find ways for your content to meet the self-interests of gatekeepers who have bigger audiences than you do.

The next step is where you come in as a PR professional. Coming up with great content or story angles is the minimum standards these days; the battle is won or lost by the expertise and commitment of the people who pitch that content to gatekeepers.

For example, you may possess some killer news, but if all you do is post a news release on a wire service, you’re not going to get noticed.

Earning your share of attention hinges on carefully determining which gatekeepers can reach your most important audiences. Then, you’ll need to figure out how to help those gatekeepers do something they can’t do on their own, while cheerfully, politely and persistently staying in front of them until they realize your usefulness.

That’s why YOU are the secret weapon for brands who either don’t have the budgets to compete with advertising or who have already reached the point of diminishing returns with advertising. Your skill and commitment to pitching your content is the difference.

So, don’t just build something and hope for the best. Or else your content views will be as low as the crowd sizes at Ray Kinsella’s Iowa baseball field.


Michael Smart teaches PR professionals how to dramatically increase their positive media placements. He’s engaged regularly by organizations like General Motors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Georgia Tech to help their media relations teams reach new levels of success. Get more media pitching knowledge from Michael Smart here.

Want to dive deeper into Smart’s tips for landing more media coverage? Check out his workshop “Secrets of Media Relations Masters” or his online course “Crafting the Perfect Pitch”. 

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Michael Smart

1 Comment

  • I really enjoyed your take on the “Field of Dreams” quote in this context. Pitching is indispensable in the field of PR, and I agree that your pitch should almost silently indicate the particular publics that you are trying to reach.

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